In 2011 Yu Darvish, who pitched for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham fighters of the Japanese Pacific League, was the most highly anticipated international pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. There was much speculation that the highly touted pitcher was coming to the Blue Jays organization, however, the Texas Rangers unfortunately surprised the sports industry by outbidding the competition. Since this day and onward, many Jays fans including myself remain devastated about the fact that Darvish is not pitching in a Blue Jays uniform.
The Blue Jays have the opportunity to go after a Japanese star once again. According to Dylan Hernandez from the LA Times, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 25-year-old ace Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. His stats have been prodigious throughout the 2013 season. He held a 24-0 W-L record with a 1.27 ERA, and this is not the first season he has pitched well for the Golden Eagles. In fact he has pitched pre-dominantly well since the 2011 season, in which he posted a 19-5 record with a 1.27 ERA. He also broke a 76-year-old record by winning his 25th consecutive decision in September.
Masahiro Tanaka is listed at 6’2 and weighs around 205 lbs. He is a right-handed pitcher whose pitch repertoire consists of 4 pitches. These include a four seam fastball that averages at 90-94 mph and at times can reach 97 mph, a slider that clocks in around 82-86 mph, a two-seam fastball, and a splitter that averages around 84-88 mph. Many scouts believe that his splitter tends to be his best pitch.
I personally believe Tanaka to be the perfect fit for the Toronto Blue Jays. The main reason is because the Blue Jays obviously have glaring concerns with their starting rotation. I predict that Tanaka would make an immediate impact as a frontline starter. However, although the Blue Jays won’t have to surrender any draft picks, it may come with a high price tag. The Blue Jays already have $110 million committed in 2014. If the Blue Jays want to make any significant moves in the off-season, they would have to increase their payroll by acquiring a guy like Tanaka. Many GM’s believe that a star like Tanaka will fetch offers north of $100 million. Now that he’s been made available to pitch in the big leagues, I expect the Blue Jays to make to a substantial offer for his services.
During the season finale versus the Tampa Bay Rays, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos mentioned that he thinks they are in a good position to get involved with Tanaka. He anticipates that Tanaka will be the most sought after free agent in the upcoming off-season. What will the Blue Jays do before the next spring? Will the Jays go all in on Tanaka? Or will they let themselves be outbid again, forced to relive past mistakes?